Gators travel to Orlando on Tuesday

The strength of the Gators during their opening weekend series win over Duke was the bullpen. As No. 13 Florida travels to Orlando on Tuesday night to face UCF, the bullpen will have to carry the team again. Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan will start junior right-hander Keenan Kish on the mound Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., and the game will likely be turned over to the bullpen early.

The reason for starting Keenan Kish is to get a veteran on the mound for the start of the game. Going into a hostile environment at Central Florida, O'Sullivan wants a returning player on the mound who has dealt with some pressure before. The Knights always get up to play Florida, especially in Orlando.

Last time the Gators traveled to Jay Bergman Field, UCF set a school attendance record with 3,601 in the stands. UCF head coach Terry Rooney is starting his fifth season as the head coach. The fiery 39-year-old has restored the program, even adding an expansion of seats onto the stadium before last year.

The atmosphere on Tuesday will be one of the best at Jay Bergman Field this season, and O'Sullivan wants an experienced pitcher on the mound to at least get off on the right foot.

After that, the game will be handed to the bullpen.

"We just have really good arms in the bullpen," Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They threw the ball pretty well this weekend. I was pleased with how our bullpen threw the ball."

Kish threw 1.1 innings against Duke on Friday night, allowing two hits and striking out two hitters. He was a part of the bullpen that was the anchor of the team against the Blue Devils. The group totaled 16.2 innings pitched over the weekend, allowing 11 hits, six walks, two earned runs and striking out 11 hitters.

With the strength of the bullpen came frustration from O'Sullivan about Florida starting pitchers not being able to go deep into games. Even on pitch counts, he wants that to change this weekend.

The strength of the bullpen made it a non-issue.

"We've got a strong bullpen with a lot of young guys that are going to come in and do good things for us," Florida sophomore right-hander Ryan Harris said.

The young pitchers were especially impressive over the weekend. Florida's six freshmen pitchers that made an appearance — Jason Carmichael, Parker Danciu, Eric Hanhold, Tucker Simpson, Mike Vinson and Danny Young — combined to throw 10 innings, allowing six hits, four walks and two earned runs while striking out eight hitters.

The freshmen could see time on the mound on Tuesday at UCF, and O'Sullivan is hoping an experienced pitcher like Kish can get the game started off right so the freshmen won't feel as much pressure.

"The three freshmen at the end—Mike Vinson didn't have much time to get ready but he came in and threw strikes. Carmichael threw strikes and Eric Hanhold," O'Sullivan said about Sunday's game. "I do feel good about how our freshmen threw this weekend. They handled it very well."

The two teams matched up during the second midweek game of last season on March 22 in Gainesville and cruised to an 8-0 win. Jonathon Crawford started that game, the first of his career, and went five innings, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out four.

The Florida offense was led by home runs from Daniel Pigott and Preston Tucker. Six different players had an RBI, while Pigott, Tucker, Casey Turgeon and Mike Zunino each had two-hit games.

UCF will start senior left-hander Brian Adkins, who threw one scoreless inning against Siena during the Knights' opening weekend.


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